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Paramahansa Yogananda's "My Mother's Eyes"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.

Gyan Prabha Ghosh, Mother of Paramahansa Yogananda

Gyan Prabha Ghosh, Mother of Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction and Excerpt From "My Mother’s Eyes”

The great guru composed a series of poems that focus on the aspect of God as the Divine Mother. In the "Invisible Mother," the speaker offers a prayer as well as a poem to express the unity of all creation under a God, whose many aspects allow each devotee to understand and approach the Deity on their own terms.

In "Two Black Eyes," the phrase "two black eyes" operates first as an image and then as a symbol of eternal, spiritual love that the great guru felt for his beloved biological mother. The speaker of "My Cosmic Mother's Face" offers his drama featuring his search for the Divine Mother, or the Cosmic Mother aspect of God.

In "My Mother's Eyes," the speaker is dramatizing his frantic search to find those lost black eyes that he loved so much.

Excerpt From "My Mother’s Eyes"

Whence came that black‐eyed light
Flickering in my life a moment?
Whither did it flit away?
The twilight of many incarnations
Had glowed in those eyes;
Many lights of love dreams
Have met in the bower of those two eyes.
And then, , but a soulless altar—
The lifeless eyes
Remained before me. . . .

(Please note: The poem in its entirety may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)

Paramahansa Yogananda, age 6

Commentary

The phrase "two black eyes" functions both as an image and then as a symbol of the eternal, spiritual love in Paramahansa Yogananda's poems about his beloved mother.

First Movement: Image and Symbol

The speaker begins with that all-important image: “Whence came the black-eyed light, / Flickering in my life a moment?” He alludes to earlier incarnations wherein he had experienced the love that flowed from similar black-eyed mothers. The speaker roams beyond the physical plane, transcends to the cosmic level where the Divine Mother abides.

Second Movement: Divine Mother Expressing as an Earthly Mother

Addressing his Divine Mother, the speaker asks from where did She come to become the guiding force he found in those "two eyes" of his earthly mother. In times of distress as he was growing up and experiencing the trials and tribulations of the world, he could find comfort and direction as his mother gave him affection and deep love.

As he experienced the comfort from gazing into those comforting eyes, the speaker's love for his mother grew and he become totally dependent on her love and affection.

Third Movement: The Search Begins

Adopting a sea faring metaphor, the speaker asserts that his "life-boat" lost it direction when he become motherless. Death had come like an earth quake into his young life and had stolen his harbor of safety. The speaker then reports that he began to search the heavens for the comfort that those two black eyes had afforded him.

The little drama features the speaker sailing directionless on the uncharted "sky-sea." He looked to the stars searching for those two comforting eyes. He detected in those stars many twinkling black eyes, but they were not the eyes that he sought.

Fourth Movement: Accepting no Substitute

After the death of his beloved mother, many other mothers attempted to comfort the grieving young boy. His "orphan life" that plagued his mind, however, could not be assuaged by the affection offered him by others. His "motherless sorrow" continued to motivate him to search for the permanent love that will never leave one abandoned.

The earthly mother by her very nature is only temporary, and the pain of the child losing her/his mother can be devastating. Where can one go? What can one do to quell the pain of such loss?

Fifth Movement: Love of the All-Pervading Mother

The speaker can finally report that after searching "in all the lands of the unknown," he finally found "the all-pervading Divine Mother's / Countless black eyes." Not only does he find his lost mother, but he finds the Mother Who will never leave him.

The eyes of the Divine Mother now let him know that he is fiercely loved by an Eternal Entity that is everywhere in "space and heart," in "earth-cores, in "stars,"—and all those eyes remain "staring at me / From everywhere."

Sixth Movement: The Search and Its Goal

The speaker can now announce that after "seeking and seeking" that dead earthly mother, he "found the Deathless Mother." He had lost an earthly mother but gained his "Cosmic Mother." After he found the Divine Mother, he found that love again in that permanent, omnipresent, omniscient, Cosmic Mother.

However, now that he has her attention, the speaker puts the question to Her: why did you take away my beloved, earthly mother ? He creates a colorful metaphor in which to place his piercing question, as he accuses the Cosmic Mother of tearing away "the dazzling diamond of my mother's love / From the ring of my heart?" The seventh movement features the extended reply from the speaker's Divine Mother.

Seventh Movement: Divine Mother Explains

To answer the cheeky question of the devotee/speaker, a "cloud voice" breaks through the "firmament within" to inform him of Her reason for taking his earthly mother from him when he was so young:

The Divine Mother had suckled the devotee throughout eternity in the "breasts of many mothers." Those two black eyes that he adored so much were none other than the Divine Mother Herself.

But the speaker/devotee had become too attached to those earthly eyes; his "wisdom and cosmic love" had become entangled in the "jungle of those two eyes." Thus the Cosmic Mother "set afire" the darkness that was engulfing him. The earthly mother's physical encasement, according to Hindu custom, would have been cremated; thus the fire reference.

The Divine Mother continues explaining that She had to free the speaker/devotee from his attachment to his earthly mother so he would seek the Permanent Mother, in Whom he would find again those two earthly eyes. All the black eyes of all mothers on the earth are mere "shadows only of My eyes."

The Cosmic Mother, therefore, "broke the finite" form of the earthly mother so the devotee/speaker might gaze upon the Divine Mother. Thus the speaker finally could understand that "every soulful woman" represents the Divine Mother. At last, the speaker could behold the "Infinite Cosmic Form" of his earthly mother's love that had been symbolized by the phrase "two black eyes."

A spiritual classic

A spiritual classic

Paramahansa Yogananda

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on February 26, 2018:

You're welcome, Louise! Always great to hear from you.

The poetry of Paramahansa Yogananda does much more than ordinary poems do; it serves to enhance the activity of meditation, ultimately leading the individual soul to Divine Reality.

The great guru's three books that feature his poetry are Songs of the Soul, Whispers from Eternity, and Metaphysical Meditations--all available from Self-Realization Fellowship and Amazon. You might even be able to find them in libraries in large cities.

Blessings for the day, Louise! Thanks for your response!

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 25, 2018:

I've read a few of your articles about poems written by him. I'd never heard of this poet till then, so I will definitely read more of his poetry. Thankyou.